What is it all about?
A couple on a camping trip get more than they bargained for when they stray from the path and disturb a group of creatures in the woods.
Any film that is centred around a couple, hiking and camping in dense woods, all alone and with no phone signal, then you know from the off something is going to go wrong. Is it vengeful spirits? A psycho in a Ski Mask?, a hungry bear? Its a formula that has worked so well over the years and its a set up that even to this day gets my horror juices flowing. Maybe its my childhood memories of watching a blood thirsty Jason, hacking his way through Camp Crystal Lake in numerous enjoyable sequels to get me interested in any film that is set in a deep forest!
Redwood is nothing like a Friday the 13th film, there is a bogeyman and a quite frightful one of that, but this is not a slasher or a ghost, haunting the woods. This is firmly in the creature feature genre and while the vampire inspired creatures are wonderfully designed, the real horror lies within the story itself with a killer pay off that makes Redwood one of the most enjoyable horrors I have seen this year.
The young couple Josh (Mike Beckingham) and Beth (Tatjana Inez Nardone) are on a holiday trek filled full of sadness. Josh has Leukaemia and the break is for them to not only bond but deal with the situation that they face themselves in. Josh to his credit is upbeat and trying to put on a brave face, while Beth is struggling with the impact of the news. As they venture further into the woods, cracks start to appear, with Josh understandably beginning to crack under the stress.
The difficult situation is the heartbeat of the movie, how two people can deal with such life changing news and while the film benefits massively from this, the emotion then plays havoc when the film tries to be funny. Having Nicholas Brendon in an extended cameo as a “hunter” who stumbles upon the couple is a much welcome delight for fans of Buffy (a show which is also referenced here), more so when he utters the word “Vampire” but the tone from a serious dread to self mocking is quite startling and threatens to derail the film at times. There is an eerie vibe to the film from the off, so trying to crack jokes doesn’t quite work, but luckily its only a few minor bumps to the wonderful destination we end up in.
Its Brendon’s character that fills in the dots with a little speech and a warning for the couple not to enter some certain parts of the woods. Of course being a horror film, his advice is totally ignored and while you think you’ll be screaming at the TV for the usual cliche’s on show, there is a very dark undertone to the film. Horror veterans will have that deep dark feeling in the pits of their stomach that something is not right in what they are watching. My horror senses were tingling throughout and I am glad to say that the pay off is richly rewarding.
Without being a spoiler as I guess you know they eventually will, once the couple take the wrong path and end up where they shouldn’t be, there are some some great set-pieces. From the first sighting of the “Vampires” to some great chase scenes, director Tom Paton delivers an intense last half hour that my surprise you for being so action heavy. Most films of this genre that are not slasher, usually stay in one tone before the final moments, but Redwood explodes way before and even in between all the chaos, still drops enough hints to where the film ends.
All those little moments and tiny dialogue that left you wondering and questioning all of a sudden leaves you uttering the word “Wow” I love nothing more than a horror that delivers a nasty vicious bite to its tale and Redwood truly gives you one that it even left me thinking “Did that really just happen?”.
Redwood may not be perfect, but it delivers a tale of rich satisfaction, a story that proves monsters come in all shapes and forms and when the final credits roll you will have realised you have just watched one of 2018’s most hidden horror gems.